House Panel to Hear Bill Seeking Revocation of SMNI Franchise

SONSHINE Media Network International
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MANILA, Philippines: Today, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Legislative Franchises is scheduled to hold a hearing on a bill that seeks to revoke the franchise of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI). The hearing, set for 1 p.m., will be livestreamed on the House’s Facebook page.

The bill, known as House Bill (HB) 9710, was filed on December 11, 2023, by 1-Rider Party-List Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez. According to the bill, the committee has identified “numerous transgressions and abuses on the part of the franchise grantee.”

In December, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) suspended SMNI’s operations after one of its programs made an error in reporting on the travel expenses of Speaker Martin Romualdez. This incident incurred the ire of the House, which grants media franchises through the NTC.

One of the “infractions” mentioned in the bill involves Section 4 of the franchise grant, which prohibits the deliberate dissemination of false information or willful misrepresentation using SMNI’s stations or facilities.

In November 2023, Jeffrey Celiz, the host of “Laban Kasama Ang Bayan,” admitted that the information provided by his source regarding Romualdez’s travel expenses was incorrect. Celiz has since apologized for the mistake.

The revocation of a media franchise is a serious matter that requires careful consideration. It is essential to uphold the principles of accuracy, fairness, and responsibility in journalism. The House Committee on Legislative Franchises has the responsibility to ensure that media organizations operate in accordance with these principles and uphold the public’s trust.

While it is important to hold media organizations accountable for any transgressions, it is also crucial to ensure that due process is followed. The hearing today provides an opportunity for SMNI to present its case and address the concerns raised by the committee.

The livestreaming of the hearing on the House’s Facebook page allows for transparency and accessibility, enabling the public to observe the proceedings and form their own opinions. This level of transparency is vital in maintaining the public’s trust in the legislative process.

It is worth noting that media organizations play a significant role in society by providing information, fostering public discourse, and holding those in power accountable. However, this role comes with great responsibility. Media organizations must adhere to ethical standards and ensure the accuracy and integrity of their reporting.

As the hearing progresses, it is essential for the committee to thoroughly examine the evidence and arguments presented by both sides. The decision to revoke a media franchise should be based on a fair and impartial assessment of the facts, ensuring that the public interest is upheld.

The outcome of this hearing will have implications not only for SMNI but also for the broader media landscape in the Philippines. It is a reminder of the importance of responsible journalism and the need for media organizations to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.

In conclusion, today’s hearing by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises regarding the bill to revoke SMNI’s franchise brings to light the need for media organizations to operate with integrity and responsibility. While the allegations of transgressions and abuses must be thoroughly examined, it is crucial to ensure that due process is followed and that the public’s trust in the media is maintained. The livestreaming of the hearing on the House’s Facebook page allows for transparency and accessibility, enabling the public to engage in the legislative process. As this process unfolds, it is essential that the committee carefully considers the evidence and arguments presented to make a fair and impartial decision that upholds the public interest.

Source: The Manila Times

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